17 March

The North American B-45 Tornado was the United States Air Force’s (USAF) first operational jet bomber, and the first multi-jet engined bomber in the world to be refuelled in mid-air. The B-45 was an important part of the United States’s nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s, but was soon superseded by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. B-45s and RB-45s served in the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959. It was also the first jet bomber of the NATO Alliance, which was formed in 1949.

North American B-45 Tornado
Role Strategic bomber
Manufacturer North American Aviation
First flight 17 March 1947
Introduction 22 April 1948
Retired 1959
Primary users United States Air Force
Royal Air Force
Produced 143
Unit cost
US$1.1 million
Flight line of B-45’s in 1952